Tag Archives: Music Review

I CAN’T GO ON WITHOUT YOU – Kaleo

Kaleo is a young Icelandic band who released their first album, A/B, last year. This blues/rock album is filled with beautifully executed tunes, stressing the smooth weight of lead singer JJ Juliusson’s voice and the charismatic playing of lead guitarist Rubin Pollock. (Not to downplay Daniel (Bass) or David (Percussion), who are also both amazing musicians!) The soul that this band brings into their music is fantastic. I feel like they have poured their hearts into the album, charging each song emotionally and building a collection that is wonderful to listen through.

That is one of the many reasons it was so hard to pick just one song to write about. But I feel like “I Can’t Go On Without You” is a good representation of what Kaleo is and has to offer.

“I Can’t Go On Without You” starts quietly – a few strums on the guitar followed by an eerie whistle. Long, high-pitched tones begin to whale from the lead to accompany the sound, emphasizing a feeling of anticipation. Then JJ begins telling us a story – a man and woman who thought they were in love.

Within the first verse we learn that the woman has fell out of that love. Nobody wants that. And though he tries, he cannot go on living his life without her. JJ’s stress on the “can’t” is very powerful, cracking at the top as if he truly means it.

It’s here that we introduce another element to the building song – the guitar hitting low-echoed tones that almost remind me of the way that music sounds under water. The sound is deep, often putting chills down my spine. Coupled with JJ’s aching voice makes it that much more awesome.

As the song continues, the lyrics appear to reveal that the woman was involved in an affair, hinted by the shame he feels when he thinks of her. They break up, but he continues to think about her, so many “thoughts that cross [his] mind.” He is still in love with her, even though she has left him a “broken man.” His life has been left in pieces as he struggles to live without her.

The music grows with this emotion, gradually getting more chaotic and powerful, with a few quiet, reflective moments in between. Each time JJ comes back stronger and louder in the chorus, pushing the words across the sound. Strings join in on the pain and the lead guitar takes off a few times, grasping the desperate, wasted feeling of the song.

I had the amazing opportunity to see this band towards the end of last year. I was twenty feet from the stage and this was the first song they chose to play. I remember closing my eyes and just listening – and it was one of my favorite concert experiences to date. If these guys come by – don’t miss them. You will regret it.

Please take a listen and check out the official music video here. Don’t forget to check out the full lyrics below.

Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

“I Can’t Go On Without You” by Kaleo

Well they thought they were made for each other
One thinking of one another
Never thinking just for one second
She would take a different attraction

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you
Can’t go on without you, yeah
I can’t go on without you

Oh so, what’s the point in breaking my sweet heart?
She wanted me to let down my guard
Well, you know what they say, it’s better that way
So, so you better hush and walk away

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Can’t go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on, won’t go on, living on, without you

Where was I supposed to wait for you sweetheart?
And hide away the shame
Yes I keep it all inside, all the thought that cross my mind
I do all the things I regret and we don’t want that

We don’t want that
We don’t want that
We don’t want that
Oh no
[x2]

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh lord
Go on without you, ooh ooh
I can’t go on without you babe
Yeah

Ahh, she loves me
She loves me not
She loves me
My love’s gon’ love me

Oh so what is left but a broken man?
Cause nothing hurts like a woman can

I can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh yeah
Can’t go on without you
I can’t go on without you, oh
Oh without you lord, without you
Without you babe
Oh lord
You

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I TOOK A PILL IN IBIZA: Mike Posner (Seeb Remix)

While I’m sure this song has grown in popularity in clubs, bars, and on your local radio station, it has also managed to stay course and be popular with myself. There is just something to the thrummed synthetic sound that makes me not only move but listen.

Mike Posner put out the original I Took a Pill in Ibiza on his “At Night, Alone” album and the remix was released by the Norwegian duo Seeb. If you take a listen to the original you’ll find a slower, acoustic melody compared to the swifter, layered remix. While there is not nearly as much power in the original’s sound (I actually find it a little stiff on the musicality side), what will stick out is the true weight in the lyrics (which don’t really shine through on the remix).

I think when most people first listen to the remix, they here the first few lines, cap if for a party song and don’t bother to hear what else Posner is saying. In the chorus, he endlessly repeats the phrases “You don’t wanna” followed by an action in his life. He implies that all the success he has had has actually made him feel low and sad. He doesn’t know who to trust and feels alone. When he is performing, he is “stuck” doing the act. Imagine the one thing that kept your life going—your dreams—is now something you are stuck in? With all that downward emotion playing on his life every day, he is left with only “sad songs.”

This is even more emphasized in the verses. He does things for others “just to prove” himself. He can’t have a relationship because “the truth is he can’t open up.” He already “blew his shot” and in the last verse (which Seeb actually left out likely because it can’t be masked with the club-like scene) he returns home to a world that thinks a lot of him. But when he is asked by others how to get to such a high spot in fame, he feeds them the chorus.

When this song is broken down, you realize that Posner is pouring out his failures, fears, and disappointments within his own popularized life (kind of strange to dance to now?). While I really enjoy Seebs’ color and texture that they bring to the remix, it is Posner’s lyrics that really make it a good song. All the heavy realizations that he empties out in this one is a hard pill to swallow.

Please take a listen of the remix track here and the original track here. Don’t forget to check out the full lyrics below.

Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner (Seeb Remix omits last verse)

I took a pill in Ibiza
To show Avicii I was cool
And when I finally got sober, felt 10 years older
But fuck it, it was something to do
I’m living out in LA
I drive a sports car just to prove
I’m a real big baller ’cause I made a million dollars
And I spend it on girls and shoes

But you don’t wanna be high like me
Never really knowing why like me
You don’t ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone
You don’t wanna ride the bus like this
Never knowing who to trust like this
You don’t wanna be stuck up on that stage singing
Stuck up on that stage singing
All I know are sad songs, sad songs
Darling, all I know are sad songs, sad songs

I’m just a singer who already blew his shot
I get along with old timers
‘Cause my name’s a reminder of a pop song people forgot
And I can’t keep a girl, no
‘Cause as soon as the sun comes up
I cut ’em all loose and work’s my excuse
But the truth is I can’t open up

But you don’t wanna be high like me
Never really knowing why like me
You don’t ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone
You don’t wanna ride the bus like this
Never knowing who to trust like this
You don’t wanna be stuck up on that stage singing
Stuck up on that stage singing
All I know are sad songs, sad songs
Darling, all I know are sad songs, sad songs

I took a plane to my home town
I brought my pride and my guitar
All my friends are all gone but there’s manicured lawns
And the people still think I’m a star
I walked around downtown
I met some fans on Lafayette
They said tell us how to make it ’cause we’re getting real impatient
So I looked ’em in the eye and said

You don’t wanna be high like me
Never really knowing why like me
You don’t ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone
You don’t wanna ride the bus like this
Never knowing who to trust like this
You don’t wanna be stuck up on that stage singing
Stuck up on that stage singing
All that I know are sad songs, sad songs
Darling, all that I know are sad songs, sad songs

 

STRESSED OUT – Twenty One Pilots

I first heard this song at one in the morning coming back from a business trip. My trip had gone as wrong as possible, starting with delayed flights, dropping my iPad, and constantly running from one place to the next (I hate being rushed). I don’t think I even ate that day except for a late and terrible airport burger. I was finally on my way home when this heavy beat matched with a whirring electric sound began to run through my speakers.

And then it just kept getting more interesting. This song was talking to me about exactly how I was feeling at that moment. What had been playing through my head is what everyone thought and would think of me based on my performance earlier that day. Work was stressing me out and I was ready to be done with it. I wanted so badly to be free from the heavy responsibilities that were now laid on me.

“Blurryface” is the album that Stressed Out is featured on and was released by Twenty One Pilots May 15, 2015. The album’s theme, according to lead singer Tyler Joseph, is about insecurities. The name Blurryface itself is meant to represent a character within the songs that explores these uncertainties that Tyler Josepsh (and most people) have. The lead singer even takes a very artistic approach to this characterization for the music videos produced for the “Blurryface” tracks by painting his throat and hands black, alluding to his insecurities with the things he creates and the feeling of suffocation that is brought on by that emotion.

Stressed Out specifically delves into the fears about growing up and becoming part of the adult-world. This idea is emphasized in the lyrics through the verses: “Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter,” “Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face/Saying, ‘wake up, you need to make money,” and the chorus: “Wish we could turn back time/to the good ol’ days/When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”

The Blurryface character introduction is made right before each chorus, explaining that he “care(s) what you think,” compared to when he was once a child and none of the social anxieties he has now even mattered.

My favorite verse within this set has to do with building a candle for those scents that bring back memories. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the room and caught a strange smell for an instant and my brain was flooded with old images and emotions that were linked to it.

Twenty One Pilots did a great job with this song. Lyrically, this song could be read like a poem and is relatable to so many people (especially my generation). Musically, the song structure and electronic influences is fun and entertaining.

Please take a listen of the track here  and check out the full lyrics below. And when you’re done, get out of your funk and go make some money 🙂

Enjoy!
______________________________________________________________________
“Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots (Blurryface)
I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard,
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words,
I wish I found some chords in an order that is new,
I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang,

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.
My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young,
How come I’m never able to identify where it’s coming from,
I’d make a candle out of it if I ever found it,
Try to sell it, never sell out of it, I’d probably only sell one,

It’d be to my brother, ‘cause we have the same nose,
Same clothes homegrown a stone’s throw from a creek we used to roam,
But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered,
Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.

My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

———————————————————————-

PS. For those that made it to the very end…Isn’t the irony of line four awesome?

WILD ANIMALS – Trampled by Turtles

Wild Animals by Trampled by Turtles is just one of those songs that plants itself in my head and continues to grow and grow, my mind and emotions completely entangled with it by the end of a week.

The song begins by swelling and then plummeting to only a pluck of strings. I’m immediately thrown into that feeling, inhaling and exhaling right with them. (It’s actually kind of stress relieving!) The first verse is curious and mysterious. Simonett’s voice starts in telling us about another world that’s really “made for us” because the one here leaves us “trapped in bodies” that are “made to rust.” Is he talking about the afterlife? Continuing, he sings “It’s one that I can break right through/I am ready, how about you?”

After posing that question, the beginning of the song shines through again as the chorus. The wave-like swells take hold and the eerie, scratching of the violin becomes more noticeable, giving way to the spooky side of this track.

The next verse travels further into the theme of afterlife and death. There is a feeling of misbelief with “and this just can’t be happening,” as if to question whether or not death is possible and that it could affect them. But this is directly followed by a strong understanding in finding “everything we need buried deep beneath the leaves.” Almost as if so to say they are comfortable with the final outcome. The chorus’s howl starts back in after this. One could believe that the howling is almost a mark of pain in realizing the finality of life throughout these verses.

In the last verse, a light string arpeggio plucking is heard that reminds (for some reason) of twinkling stars. I doubt that was their intention, but I find it fitting. It as if to say the night is settling in, but even with the darkness there is still light.

The song continues with the Simonett saying that he “can see the better part of you.” But even though that good exists, “I’m a monster just like you/Wild animals it’s true.” I believe this verse gets away from the death theme and delves more into human nature. That even though our intentions are mostly good, there is still flares in the opposite direction stemming from the fact that we are “wild.” Within a person, instinct still exists and can control your reactions/emotions. Whether it be good or bad. Whether that even leads you to bury something under the leaves. Human nature, right?

By the end of the song, I’m always howling with it. It’s too much to resist and to just let yourself be carried by the waves of this song is fantastic. I did get to see these guys at Red Rocks this year, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when they started playing this one. Outside, with the wind blowing on your face and the cool mountain air creeping in, is possibly the greatest way to hear this song.

Please take a listen of the track here and check out the full lyrics below. Please also do yourself a favor and listen to this song with something that can carry bass. Put those five dollar headphones far away.

Enjoy!

“Wild Animals” by Trampled by Turtles (Wild Animals)

Ooooooooooooox4

There’s another world, it’s made for us
Trapped in bodies, they’re made to rust
It’s one that I can break right through
I am ready, how about you?

Ooooooooooooox4

By the coming dark, we try to breathe
And this just can’t be happening
We found everything we need
Buried deep beneath the leaves

Ooooooooooooox4

I see the better part of you
I see the better part of you
But I’m a monster just like you
Wild animals it’s true

Ooooooooooooox4

THAT DRESS LOOKS NICE ON YOU – Sufjan Stevens

From the initial pluck of the guitar on That Dress Looks Nice on You, I know I’m in love with this song. The riff is smooth and gentle, inviting the listener in.

After a few repeats, Sufjan starts in with his melodic voice, stating “I can see a lot of life in you/I can see a lot of bright in you/and I think that dress looks nice on you.” The perspective here seems to be on a person whom he loves, perhaps a woman.  Sufjan is focused more on what’s inside of the person rather than the exterior features. “That dress” is just an afterthought.

Another loop of chords is added as Sufjan describes her further, saying he can “see a bed and make it too” and seeing a “fireside turn blue.” Blue indicates the most intense heat of a fire source, as if his feeling were intensifying on the subject as he dwells on the life inside.  So much so that he believes he could build his own life with them.

The banjo comes in next, pulling at my heart strings with graceful runs imitating a flutter. The main verse is repeated here with “a lot of life in you” and a brief visit to the world’s overlook on what’s inside. Afterwards, the chords becomes more stagnant, resolving the song to a more steady feeling rather than fleeting. It as if the first verses are winds in your hair and the next are the wind at a standstill, watching you rather than becoming part of you.

But not long after, we are back to the swelling riffs that made me fall in love with this one. This song just fills me up for whatever reason. I’m both happy and am left with an excited, waiting feeling as if to say: what’s next? Sufjan, you’ve got a lot of life in you and I love listening to it.

If you’ve never heard of Sufjan Stevens, I highly encourage to try out some of his music. All of his albums are quite diverse and very creative. I was first introduced to him in college by having a young man stick a earbud into my ear to listen to Super Sexy Woman (apparently he thought I was the very subject Sufjan was describing…but that’s another story). And from that crazy moment on, I knew I had found one of my favorite artists.

The lyrics are below and a video link can be found here. This piece is on the album “Seven Swans”.

Enjoy!

“That Dress Looks Nice on You” by Sufjan Stevens (Seven Swans)

I can see a lot of life in you
I can see a lot of bright in you
And I think the dress looks nice on you
I can see a lot of life in you

I can see a bed and make it too
I can see a fireside turn blue
And I can see the lot of life in you
Yes, I can see a lot of life in you

When the world looks back
when the face looks after that
I can see a lot of life in you
Yes, I can see a lot of life in you

I can see a lot of life in you
I can see your bed and make it too
And I think the dress looks nice on you
Yes, I can see a lot of life in you

I can see a lot of life in you
Yes, I can see a lot of life in you